Top of page
Skip to main content
Main content

Walter C. RuckerProfessor of African American Studies & HistoryDirector of Graduate StudiesCo-Chair of the Mellon Sawyer Seminar Working Group

Walter C. Rucker—Professor of African American Studies and History—is a specialist in early Atlantic African diaspora and African American history. His teaching and research focus on the generative nexus between slave resistance and culture. Rucker’s first book, The River Flows On: Black Resistance, Culture, and Identity Formation in Early America (2005), tracks diasporic African identity formation through examinations of resistance efforts in colonial British North America and the antebellum U.S. His second book, Gold Coast Diasporas: Identity, Culture, and Power (2015), analyzes the origin and reinvention of “Coromantee” and “(A)mina” as neo-African ethnicities in the seventeenth- and eighteenth-century circum-Caribbean. The book assesses the socio-political scripts, cultural technologies, and public performances fashioned by enslaved Gold Coast Africans as part of an emerging and non-Western abolitionist discourse. In addition, he has published a range of book chapters and articles appearing in the Journal of African American History (and its predecessor, the Journal of Negro History), the Journal of Black Studies, and Black Scholar as well as two co-edited encyclopedia projects—The Encyclopedia of American Race Riots (2006) and The Encyclopedia of African American History (2010).

He is currently working on two book projects “The Birth of a Notion: A Century of Racial Violence and Mass Incarceration in America” and a multi-authored textbook entitled "Culture & Resistance: A Diasporic History of African Americans."



  • Gold Coast Diasporas: Identity, Culture, and Power. Blacks in the Diaspora Series. (Indiana University Press, 2015).
  • The Encyclopedia of African American History, 3 vols. (ABC-CLIO Press, 2010).
  • The Encyclopedia of American Race Riots, 2 vols. Milestones in African American History Series (Greenwood Press, 2006).
  • The River Flows On: Black Resistance, Culture, and Identity Formation in Early America. Antislavery, Abolition, and the Atlantic World Series. (Louisiana State University Press, 2005).

Refereed Articles/Chapters

  • “‘Our Danger is Great and Certain’: Gabriel’s Conspiracy and the Louisiana Purchase,” Journal of African American History (forthcoming Winter 2023).
  • “Ideological and Technological Exchanges in the Early Modern Atlantic,” in Martin Klein, ed., The Oxford Encyclopedia of Slavery, the Slave Trade, and the Diaspora (Oxford University Press, 2022).
  • “African Identity in Early America: August 20, 1729 to August 19, 1734,” in Ibram Kendi and Keisha Blain, eds., 400 Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019 (One World Press, 2021).
  • “American Slavery and Resistance,” in Aaron Astor and Thomas Buchanan, eds., Slavery and the United States: An Historiographical Approach (Kent State University Press, 2021).
  • “Religion in the Black Atlantic and the African Diaspora,” in John Corrigan, ed., The Oxford Encyclopedia of Religion in America (Oxford University Press, 2018).
  • “‘Earth from a Dead Negro’s Grave’: Ritual Technologies and Mortuary Realms in the Eighteenth-Century Gold Coast Diaspora,” in Rebecca Shumway and Trevor Getz, eds., Slavery and Its Legacy in Ghana and the Diaspora (Bloomsbury, 2017).
  • “Unpopular Sovereignty: African American Reactions and Resistance to the 1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act,” in John Wunder and Joann Ross, eds., Nebraska and the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 (University of Nebraska Press, 2008).
  • “From Black Nadir to Brown v. Board: Empowerment and Education in Black Georgian Communities, 1865-1954,” (with Sabriya Jubilee) Negro Educational Review (2007), 151-168.
  • “Crusader in Exile: Robert F. Williams and the Internationalized Struggle for Black Freedom in America,” Black Scholar (2006), 19-34.
  • “‘A Negro Nation within the Nation’: W.E.B. Du Bois and the Creation of a Revolutionary Pan-Africanist Tradition,” Black Scholar (2002), 37-46.
  • “Conjure, Magic, and Power: The Influence of Afro-Atlantic Religious Practices on Slave Resistance and Rebellion,” Journal of Black Studies (2001), 85-104.
  • “‘I Will Gather All Nations’: Resistance, Culture, and Pan-African Collaboration in Denmark Vesey’s South Carolina,” Journal of Negro History (2001), 132-147.